Whenever I talk about my travel experiences one of the many responses I always get is, “wow that sounds amazing, if only I had enough money to do the same”. One of the misconceptions of travel is that it’s expensive. Sure, there are the unavoidable costs of transportation (air travel being the most costly), accommodation, and food. But travel doesn’t have to cost as much you may think. A lot depends on your travel style, but being prepared and having an adventurous spirit will allow you to get out and explore the world for less than you think. Below are some tips that I use that will definitely help you save money while traveling, and therefore, allow you to see more and be on the road a little bit longer.
Find Shared Accommodations or Try Couchsurfing
Aside from air travel, accommodations chew up your travel budget the most. When it comes to my sleeping arrangements I’m not particularly picky. For starters, I see my accommodations as a place where I can store my belongings when I’m out for the day and a place to crash at night. The rest of the time I’m out exploring my destination. What becomes most important though, is knowing that my stuff will be safe and that I’ll get a decent enough sleep. For that reason, I love using hostels or family-run guesthouses as my preferred choice for accommodations. Dorm rooms in hostels will give you the cheapest bed possible, likely with shared bathroom facilities. But if you don’t like the idea of sharing a room with 8-10 other people, many hostels offer smaller dorm rooms with around 4-6 beds. If this still doesn’t tickle your fancy, check out the private room options as well.
For the more adventurous types, consider using Couchsurfing. It’s an online site that connects you with people living in the country or city you’ll be traveling to with extra space, be it a couch or even a bedroom, for you to use…for free! Yes, people offer up space for you to use for free. CouchSurfing is a great service for you to not only save money, but to also meet people and get great travel advice from those living in the thick of it all.
Go it Alone (avoiding Tour Groups)
Forget tour groups and embrace the challenge and freedom that comes with visiting sites and destinations on your own. Traveling around an area, whether it’s for a few days, weeks or even a month always costs more if you’re doing it on a tour. You’re paying for the convenience of someone else booking, organizing, transporting, and sharing information about that place. Tours are great for travelers who want to fit as much into a short amount of time as possible and don’t like the idea of planning everything out themselves. But they generally cost at least double what it would if you were to go it alone. Take for instance a day trip I took to visit the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an China in 2011. Transportation on public bus cost 15rmb round-trip and the entrance ticket was 110rmb. Information was widely displayed around the site so I didn’t miss out on any pertinent information I would have received from a tour guide. The total cost was 125rmb (roughly $21.50CAD), less than half the price my guesthouse was charging for a day tour of the site. Visiting destinations and sites on your own also allows you to see what you’re interested in and on your own timetable. No waiting around for members of your group who missed the meeting time or trying to hear your tour guide 20 people deep.
For more tips and the complete article on ‘How To Travel For Less’, check out Flight Centre Canada: http://www.flightcentre.ca/blog/how-to-travel-for-less/
How do you save money while you travel? Share below in the comments section!